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RNZ Pacific

Pacific countries held dawn services today to commemorate Anzac Day and recognise the 107th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli in Turkey.

Tonga paid tribute to its war veterans with a dawn ceremony held in Nuku’alofa this morning.

The ceremony took place on the Royal Palace grounds of King Tupou VI with prayers and hymns sung by His Majesty’s Armed Forces.

Ambassadors from Australia, Japan, China, the United Kingdom and New Zealand attended the ceremony.

Navy Officer Sione Ulakai acknowledged the sacrifices of Anzac soldiers in Gallipoli.

“We are celebrating the life of brave soldiers who at this time, 107 years ago, fell on the beaches of Gallipoli,” he said.

Anzac Day is a public holiday in Tonga held to honour the country’s contribution to World War I and World War II.

Two Tongans killed in battle for Solomon Islands
Two Tongan soldiers were killed in World War II during the battle for the Solomon Islands.

In the Cook Islands, Prime Minister Mark Brown has called on Cook Islanders to remember their almost 500 soldiers who served in World War I.

The men were part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force’s Māori Pioneer Battalion.

Some died during the conflict and others died later from war-related illness.

Brown called on people to pay tribute to all Cook Islanders who have served, or are currently serving, in various forces around the world.

Anzac Day dawn services
Thousands of New Zealanders gathered today for Anzac Day dawn services. Image: Angus Dreaver/RNZ

Thousands of New Zealanders gathered for dawn services around the country today.

World War II and Defence Force aircraft were flying over numerous towns and cities as part of Anzac commemorations.

Veteran aircraft on display
Spitfire and Harvard aircraft, a P3K2 Orion, NH90 helicopters and other aircraft have been in the air.

The Auckland War Memorial Museum hosted a slimmed down version of its Anzac Day commemorations this year.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was in attendance.

In Wellington, Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro spoke at both the Dawn Service and the National Commemorative Service at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

Returned and Services Associations national president BJ Clark said the public was welcome to come into their local RSA and be part of remembrance events, and to chat with veterans.

Anzac Day, which was first held in 1916, honours more than 250,000 New Zealanders who have served overseas either in military conflicts or other roles, such as peacekeeping missions, said the Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Pae Mahara manager Brodie Stubbs.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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